Concept of fathers’ rights reshaping child-custody arrangements

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Fathers’ Rights on Thursday, June 19, 2014.

The rapid social and socio-economic changes that have taken place in America over the past few decades have resulted in developments in family law that would have seemed inconceivable only a few generations ago. The rise of no-fault divorce, the increasing acceptance of single-parent families and unmarried couples having children and, most recently, same-sex marriage are some examples.

In Missouri and elsewhere, the shift away from old traditions when it comes to families has until recently largely left one group behind: divorced fathers with children. Many divorce outcomes have remained consistent in the granting of child custody to the mother, relegating the father to visitation and child support obligations.

Lately, however, this vestige of old family traditions has begun to give way to a new way of thinking: divorced fathers are demanding equal custody rights.

The manifestations of this shift can be seen mainly in two areas: state legislative efforts to make family laws more “gender-neutral,” in which Missouri is considered to be on the leading edge, and the rise of family law attorneys and law firms that cater to what has been described as a growing “fathers’ rights” movement.

The reasons underlying the new willingness of fathers to become more insistent on preserving their involvement with their children after a divorce are in large measure attributable to three developments:

  • A growing body of scientific data indicates that the best interest of the child is served by an active involvement of the father.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that many of today’s family law attorneys and judges grew up in families affected by divorce, and have from their own experience come to value a greater involvement of fathers with children.
  • Fathers have grown more willing to accept changes in the old notions of family and divorce to contemplate a re-examination of their own roles in a post-separation custodial arrangement.

Like society itself, the institutions of marriage and family are undergoing a change that can create opportunities for new ways of thinking about a father’s continuing role with his children after a marriage ends.

Source: The Detroit Free Press, “More dads demand equal custody rights, reject child-support arrangements of yesterday,” Sharon Jayson, June 14, 2014

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